The world of solar and storage would be a shady place without the stringent guidelines of accreditation, writes Global Sustainable Energy Solutions.

The attainment of Clean Energy Council accreditation for installation of solar PV systems is the standard for the industry as a result of its ties to the federal government’s small-scale renewable energy scheme. However, the introduction of battery energy storage systems has sparked discussion about the relevance of CEC accreditation in this new market within the distributed energy industry.

Since 2009, solar PV installers and designers have obtained CEC accreditations for grid-connected systems to take advantage of the substantial financial benefit of the small-scale renewable energy scheme. Distributed network service providers soon followed suit to include CEC accreditation in their application-to-connect requirements. Both the federal government and distributed network service providers recognised CEC accreditation as proof of the knowledge and skills required to deliver a quality PV system.

Over the years, the CEC accreditation program has evolved beyond being simply a qualification program, for the CEC now provides phone and email support to technical questions, industry updates via emails and face-to-face delivery, updates and clarification to Australian Standards, and online tools such as performance estimators and installation checklist apps.

The CEC installation and design guidelines have also evolved into an important guidance document to ensure delivery of quality PV systems. As a result, recognition of CEC accreditation has increased to the point where holding CEC accreditations is regularly a prerequisite to winning PV projects, obtaining project insurance and maintaining product warranty.

Furthermore, due to CEC accreditation being mandatory for creation of small-scale technology certificates under the small-scale renewable energy scheme, demerit points issued by the CEC for non-compliance to Australian Standards and CEC guidelines not only provide important feedback to installers, but also provides an incentive for installers to stay up to date with best practices.

The continuous professional development (CPD) scheme, which requires accredited installers and designers to obtain 100 CPD points each year as part of the accreditation renewal process, also ensures accredited installers and designers stay up to date with best industry practices.

In the past two years, market interest for battery energy storage systems has increased significantly as a result of both the state of our electricity market and product maturity. Current battery energy storage technologies require additional knowledge to achieve safe and effective integration into existing electrical infrastructure and the CEC has developed the grid-connected battery endorsement as an addition to grid-connected PV system install and design accreditation.

The CEC’s battery energy storage system endorsement is yet to be tied to legislative or distributed network service providers’ connection requirements, but the industry will benefit from technical and industry support provided by the CEC to accredited installers and designers.